Jewish World Review Sept. 22, 2003 / 25 Elul, 5763

David Grimes

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Consumer Reports

A tale of two spams | Those of you who are not "computer savvy" may wonder why so many people whine about spam, a delicious luncheon meat-like substance that goes wonderfully with white bread and mayonnaise.

Well, it turns out there are two kinds of spam. One is the aforementioned budget entrée whereas the other is an unsolicited e-mail advertisement inviting you to increase your penis size 1 to 3 inches.

(Please take care to memorize the distinction. You would not want to attend a conference of Internet marketers and shout "I'd like some spam, please!" unless you want some lead weights clamped to a very personal and sensitive part of your anatomy.)

The problem with spam is that there is way too much of it. The American economy is struggling mainly because employees spend 7 1/2 hours of every working day sifting through Internet ads. It is easy to become simultaneously angry and despondent after reading the 500th invitation to increase your penis size, particularly if you happen to be a woman.

Which is why I was not particularly surprised to read that a survey of 28,000 e-mail readers found that 75 percent believe that spammers should have a boat anchor chained to their appendage and then be dumped overboard into a school of hungry sharks with a taste for fatty sandwich meat.

Actually, the respondents didn't say anything of the sort, probably because that particular option was thoughtlessly omitted from the questionnaire. What the survey revealed was that 3 out of 4 respondents found it less aggravating to clean a toilet than to wade through the junk messages in their e-mail. I personally found this response rather perplexing. When I'm wading through my junk e-mail, I'm thinking of large caliber weapons, not brushes and cleanser.

I suppose people link junk mail with housework because both are unpleasant, but the connection between spam and toilets still strikes me as odd, unless the thought of plowing through hundreds of annoying ads makes you contemplate the most convenient means of drowning yourself.

Anyway, among the other survey results:

  • A third said spammers should be fined. (Given the nature of most of their ads, I would suggest a "stiff" fine.)

  • One in five said spammers should be deluged with junk mail at their own homes. (Dave Barry made headlines recently by suggesting in a column that people place a cheerful call to the telemarketers' headquarters, preferably at dinnertime or while they are engaged in an act of personal hygiene. The telemarketers wished to express their displeasure with this stunt, but they were too busy answering the phone.)

  • One in six said spammers should have their business licenses revoked, which I found startling since I had no idea there were actual licenses making it legal for you to market penis extenders.

  • One in 12 thought spammers should be given jail time, preferably in a cell with an aggressive fellow who had derived huge benefit from one of the spammer's ads, if you catch my drift. (I am possibly making that last part up.)

  • But, perhaps most shocking of all, 25 percent of respondents believed that spammers should not be punished at all because they are simply doing their job.

By that same logic, I suppose we should not punish hired assassins because they, too, are simply doing their job.

And, besides, unless you are the one being assassinated, they are far less annoying.

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JWR contributor David Grimes is a columnist for The Sarasota Herald Tribune. Comment by clicking here.


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© 2002, Sarasota Herald Tribune